Despite the headline, it is with a joyful heart that I share the news of Joan Ceglarski's passing. She died peacefully on Wednesday, March 15th, surrounded by the people she most cared about and in the house she loved. As I placed my hand on the pall covering her coffin at Mass yesterday, I was filled with a comforting peace and the sure knowledge she was already wrapped in the perfect love of the next part of her life.
She was blessed to have lived 95 good years on this earth and those years were filled to capacity with family, friends, travel, great food, on-point fashion, books, crossword puzzles and of course, bridge. Joan was a women of grace, elegance and style who always welcomed new people into her life. It was my great privilege to have shared her tables - both dining and bridge - these past 39 years.
Many of you might not know this, but I took my first formal bridge lesson from Joan when she taught at the Swinburne School. At our first class, she told us about a "duplicate" bridge club running a game for newcomers being held at the Newport Motor Inn on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Of course, I was playing there the very next week and less than five years later, I owned the club. Turns out, I owe Joan a tremendous debt of gratitude, if it weren't for her, I wouldn't be blessed to have each of you in my life.
In the pre-Greg years, Joan and I frequently traveled to play together at the Nationals. Even on the road, she was very fashion forward. I never could figure out how she packed all that style and elegance into one little suitcase. We traveled to San Francisco on one of these trips and decided at the last minute to play a team event. An early riser, Joan offered to take on the responisbility of going down to the partnership desk and finding us another pair - though she was very nervous about choosing a winning partnership. I told her not to worry, as long as she found people with whom we would enjoy spending the day, we'd do fine. This woman of style, elegance and grace soon introduced me to our teammates for the day, a father and son pair who looked like they arrived straight out of Deliverance! You could almost hear the banjos playing. She and I enjoyed almost four decades of laughter remembering that experience. As welcoming as always, she figured no one else would have played with them and I think she knew she'd enjoy remembering the look on my face when she introduced us.
I'll leave you with this, though some of you may have heard me say this already. Joan had a fine appreciation for 9s and 10s. She would always say when a seemingly skimpy dummy hit the table, "You have wonderful intermediaries." I promised her I'd always tell my students.... "There was once a fine player named Joan Ceglarski who wants you to appreciate the value of your intermediaries!
R.I.P. Joan. We'll miss your grace, quick wit and welcoming spirit.